Thanksgiving Is Ruined
January 18, 2007
the Basket case
Here is, I do believe, one of the most wonderful blogs ever created:
How to Write, by one "bgmole" or Gherardo Bortolotti.
bgmole's blog has thus far blogged nothing more and nothing less than every paragraph, one paragraph per day, in sequence, in Gertrude Stein's circa-1929 essay, "Saving the Sentence."
According to my calculations, given the number of paragraphs in the essay, bgmole will complete his task on or about April 19, 2007.
What will he blog then? I am hoping that he'll move on to blog each paragraph of The Making of Americans. All too brief samples of the confounding, hypnotic, rolling plains of language in that book can be found here and here. MoA goes on like that for over 900 pages.
However, given the title of bgmole's blog, he will probably simply work his way, in order, through the remaining seven essays in Stein's 1931 volume of the same title. "Saving the Sentence" is the first essay.
What is the purpose of the How to Write blog? Joke? Art project? English language lesson?
Whatever the intended purpose, it ("it" = reading and probably writing the blog) is one great way to try to absorb Stein's essay, to break up and chew on each proposition. Similarly, David Antin suggested making sense of Stein's "intensive" style prose texts through the insertion of line breaks. The always impressive Marjorie Perloff describes Antin's idea here.
The HtW blog takes Antin's idea one step further. The reader is forced to take a one-day break after each statement. bgmole takes advantage of the way (I think) the blog writing form automatically tends to atomize or force words spatially as far apart as possible from one another on the same page (this fascinates me) (though the technology of the form also encourages links "through" each word to other pages, such that absent text is paradoxically brought closer).
Best of all, however, the HtW blog is the only place on the internet I can find that provides, in its January 5, 2007 entry, the proper, prominent, singular treatment of the sentence that, as I decided this week, might be the most delightful one that Stein ever wrote:
A frog is just like Basket for all the world.
What a funny, incomprehensible, charming, opaque, ambiguous, scientifically inaccurate and irrefutably true thing to say.
The internet(s) teach us the following about Basket:
Coincidentally enough, Stein's "Saving the Sentence" and "Poetry & Grammar" are both reprinted in their entirety in the current January-February 2007 issue of American Poetry Review.